First responders prepare for winter storm in Georgia

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Many employees will work longer hours. They ask you to stay home and call 911 only in an emergency.

ATLANTA — As you prepare at home for the weather this weekend, first responders across the state are preparing within their agencies.

11Alive contacted several fire departments, police departments and hospital systems. The message they all had in common is: if you don’t need to go out, stay home. This way you can stay safe and the roads remain clear for emergency crews.

DeKalb County Fire Rescue firefighters are working hard to prepare for the possibility of a weekend of hard work.

“For us, it’s about preparing our generators. We were talking to our fleet maintenance, who makes sure we have chains for our vehicles in case we need to deploy them,” Chief Darnell Fullom said.

Chief Fullom said everyone would be on deck…and for longer hours too.

“Their shifts start at seven o’clock, the crews that are in the station. In many cases, they just arrive the night before, sleep in the station so they can be ready to relieve the crew leaving that morning,” he said.

Similar to the Cobb County Fire Department, which ensures its stations have salt for driveways and chains for their vehicles.

A spokesperson for the agency said:

We’ve made sure our stations have salt for their driveways and our device has the ability to use chains if the weather causes that demand.

We have been impacted by COVID like other departments, but we are very proud of our firefighters for maintaining our workforce at levels where we are able to provide expected services in Cobb County without any station closures.

In the meantime, Gwinnett County Police said they are also clearing and treating roads so people have access to essential facilities.

Critical facilities include hospitals, like WellStar Health System, which said it was monitoring staffing levels.

In a statement, a spokesperson sent 11Alive the following information:

WellStar Health System is actively monitoring weather conditions associated with the current winter storm watch. Our facilities plan to remain open and operating during normal business hours during this time. We also monitor our staffing levels and our supply chain to ensure that we have adequate and continued access to the materials, equipment and personnel needed to care for patients. WellStar has provided accommodations for team members who cannot travel safely in inclement weather. The public is urged to stay informed of weather conditions, avoid the roads, and prepare their homes and vehicles for winter conditions.

The Northeast Georgia Health System told 11Alive that it is delaying the hours of operation at some of its urgent care and imaging centers until Monday.

It contains updates on the latest closures or delays, here.

Meanwhile, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said its hospitals will remain open 24/7.

In a statement, CHOA said the following:

“Icy roads could make it difficult to access our hospitals, so we ask families to exercise caution in the event of rain, ice or snow. Visit www.choa.org for our most recent updates. “

DeKalb Fire Chief Fullom said shortages are common at many agencies right now, especially due to COVID-19, but they’re working as hard as they can with available crew.

“We see it, like everyone else,” he said. “He knows about shortages and hospital workers, longer wait times. Hospitals have been overwhelmed, inundated with people coming in. In many cases, they are looking for information and test kits. Hospitals find themselves overwhelmed by the number of people coming during these times.”

That’s why he asks you to only call 911 in an emergency, especially this weekend.

“We will answer, we will come if we need you,” he said. “But if it’s not an emergency, we’ll ask you not to call.”

The Atlanta Police Department, however, told 11Alive that it has not experienced a staffing shortage “yet” due to omicron.

We will work in normal operation this weekend“, ODA said in a statement.

Chief Fullom adds that most fires happen in the winter months when people stay home. Since staying home this weekend is the main advice, he has a few reminders.

“We always say a heater needs space. You want to give at least three feet around it to make sure nothing can catch fire,” he said.

“Make sure your fireplace has been serviced before using it for the first time.”

“Right now a lot of people may find themselves having to use a generator if they lose power. It’s important that you use this generator outside first, not inside a garage,” he added. “He should be at least five feet from your house. The danger is carbon monoxide.”

Chief Fullom explains that carbon monoxide poisoning kills around 400 people a year. He is known as “the silent killer”.

“It’s odorless. You can’t see it, you won’t smell it. But over time it could affect your health. In about two hours you could die from it. The first signs of this are going to be flu-like symptoms. So imagine we’re dealing with the pandemic, it’s flu season and on top of that you might experience what could be carbon monoxide poisoning,” he said. said “So please get detectors, have one on every floor of your house and if you can in every bedroom.”

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